15 Thanksgiving Recipes to Freeze Ahead & Save Time

thanksgiving dinner
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Thanksgiving Day meals are legendary -- turkey, stuffing, pies, sauce, gravy, pies, casserole, cocktails, pies ... the goodness never seems to end. All that cooking, though, could leave the host tired way before the tryptophan kicks in. This year, tackle Thanksgiving in a whole new way: Make the meal ahead of time and freeze it. On the day of, implement a plan to reheat and serve.

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Making the dishes in advance will not only save cooking time on Thanksgiving Day, but also cleanup time after dinner. Another benefit? The meal will be even more delicious. Really.

Think a premade meal won't taste as good as one made on Thanksgiving day? Think again. Dr. Kantha Shelke, a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, and the founder of Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago-based food science and research firm, told Forbes.com that premade foods and leftovers actually can wind up tasting better than food right out of the oven.

"Aromatic ingredients tend to undergo a larger number of reactions that produce flavor and aroma compounds which in turn react with the proteins and the starches. In general, as the food cools and is left to sit in the fridge, and then reheated, some of these reactions continue to take place resulting in improved flavor."

Basically, the more time a dish has to sit and cool, the more the different flavor elements and aroma compounds get the chance to settle down and mingle together. The dish develops a more rounded flavor, and for those who are working with multi-ingredient dishes like stuffing and casserole, that is a good thing. Shelke explains that umami is more likely to happen on reheated dishes, too. "Umami compounds stand out more in this scenario since they are not competing with a harsh background of singular flavors and the food will taste more savory or umami-heavy in general."

Ready to rock this Thanksgiving? Here is the make-ahead-and-freeze Thanksgiving Day menu to get the job done.

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